travel Vietnam

Top Tips for Exploring Da Nang, Vietnam

November 20, 2018
Da Nang Vietnam view from Marble Mountains

Da Nang, located in Vietnam’s central region, has become a hub for tourists flocking to its beaches and sights. A local mentioned that 20 years ago, it was a fairly small place, but recent development and tourism has grown rapidly. As the fifth largest city, it marks the half way point between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Marble Mountains near Da Nang, Vietnam

We arrived in Da Nang after a long night on a sleeper train from Nha Trang to a rainy day, our first despite arriving in the wet season. Da Nang turned out to be a great place to kick back and relax and a good spot to start exploring the central region.

Thuan Phuoc Bridge over the Han River in Da Nang, Vietnam

Spend a couple days taking in the sights, including some of the following in your itinerary:

See the bridges

Han River Bridge, Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang is a relatively new and fast growing city, so expect modern architecture and attractions. One thing it is becoming famous for is it’s over-the-top bridges. Take a stroll along the Han River at night to see all the bridge lighting up in a rainbow of neon colours.

Golden Dragon Bridge Da Nang Vietnam

Most notably is the longest, the golden Dragon Bridge, decorated with an opulent, chinese-style dragon slithering along the side of the bridge. Yes, it lights up at night, alternating between yellow, green, cyan, and blue. And if that wasn’t enough, it spits fire and water on Fridays and Saturday nights.

Sip on some craft beer

7 Bridges brewery craft beer menu and pint

Like many parts of the world, Vietnam is jumping on the craft beer bandwagon, and Da Nang has it’s sites set on becoming the premier spot to try local brews.

One company driving this forward is 7 Bridges Brewing Company, an American-style local brewer with a bar in Da Nang’s city centre. We stop by after our evening walk along the river for a brew and stayed for several (and some much needed spicy wings). My favourite was the Yuzu IPA, it has a drinkable, fresh flavour.

Visit Bà Nà Hills

Ba Na Hills near Da Nang

You’ve probably started to see one of central Vietnam’s newest attractions cropping up on Instagram. This curving bridge supported by two stone hands sitting high in the hills overlooking a breath-taking view. The Golden Bridge, opened earlier this year, is located in the Ba Na Hills, about 45 minutes outside of Da Nang (yes, more bridges).

Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills near Da Nang Vietnam
Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills near Da Nang Vietnam

Now, I had very mixed feelings about our visit Ba Na Hills. We visited on a rainy day while we were travelling between Da Nang and Hoi An. I do wish I’d done slightly more research to know what to expect:

The good: To get to the Golden Bridge, we took the longest and highest non-stop cable car in the world up into the hills, above the forests and past waterfalls. It’s about a 15 minute journey and it is spectacular to see.

Cable car in Ba Na Hills

It was cloudy so we did miss out on the view. But the bridge look entirely mystical, rising on of the clouds, and giving an even greater impression we were standing on top of the world

The bad: Was more than the fact our view was somewhat obstructed by the rainy whether. The bridge and cable car are part of a theme park, Sun World, which personally I found inauthentic, expensive, crowded, and over-commercialised.

The little French village had some pretty buildings, but was slightly overshadowed by the park around it (playing Swiss music with advertisements for Oktoberfest). And I ended up questioning the whole time whether it was authentic and feeling a bit like I was in a Disney World version of Europe. Overall, a bit overpriced and the bridge and cable cars are the only parts really worth seeing.

French village in Ba Na Hills in the rain
Ba na hills theme park

The verdict: It’s a tourist trap; go if you want to see the views and your budget allows and just manage your expectations.

Relax at the beach

My Khe Beach near Da Nang

The area around Da Nang is home to some gorgeous beaches. A lot of them. And definitely more than we had time to visit (you can find a list of them here.)

One of the most popular is My Khe beach, a favourite with surfers and sunbathers alike. It’s also one of the most beautiful and there’s still plenty of space on white sands to spread out.

My Khe Beach near Da Nang

Take a day trip

Some visitors use Da Nang as a hub to see Hoi An. However, I think this charming town deserves a few days of its own. That said, there are plenty of excursions to be had while visiting Da Nang.

Hoi An, Vietnam

The Marble Mountains, visible from the town, is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located in Ngũ Hành Sơn District. The mountains are filled with caves and temples for exploring.

Through an archway in the Marble Mountains
Pagoda in the Marble Mountains
View towards Da Nang in Marble Mountains Vietnam

We also hiked to the top, taking in the spectacular scenery around us. Best of all, for a few moments, we were the only people up there on top of the mountain.

Climbing to the top of Water Mountain in Marble Mountains
View of beach near Da Nang from top of Water Mountain in Marble Mountains

Da Nang is also close to popular sites in Central Vietnam. This includes Hai Van Pass, a gorgeously scenic road high in the hills, and My Son, a complex of ruined temples.

Hai Van Pass in Central Vietnam

Da Na travel tips

Getting to Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang has its own international airport, one of three in the country. And its the only international airport in the central region, with incoming flights from a number of other airports in Asia, as well as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nha Trang.

We took a sleeper train from Nha Trang (about 10 hours). You can also catch this train from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. However, be aware these are very long journeys. Also check for stations in between. It’s also reachable by train or private car transfer from Hue.

Things to do in Da Nang Vietnam - Pinterest graphic
  • Reply
    November 25, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    I’d absolutely love to visit Vietnam! The beaches would definitely be where I’d head to first, but it looks like there is so much to do!

    Soph – x

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      November 26, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      It was so hard visiting on a relatively short time frame, I can easily waste a few weeks on the beach but there was so much to see!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2018 at 11:50 am

    It seems like there’s a lot to do! The beaches look amazing. It’s a shame the weather wasn’t so great and ruined your view x


    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      November 26, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      Lots to do! I can’t really complain too much about the weather, it was the only really rainy day we had the whole time

  • Reply
    November 28, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Wow Vietnam looks stunning, and that bridge is insane! I’ve never actually seen that before, what a sight 😂

    Lovely blog, looking forward to seeing your future posts 💕

  • Reply
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